Because of their unique properties, ceramics are chosen for a variety of uses from tableware to hip replacements and electronics. And abrasive blasting provides an innovative solution to process fragile ceramics without breaking or damaging them.
Categories of Ceramics
We often think of ceramics as pottery, fired clay used to make art or dishes. But we come across ceramics in many areas of our daily life, from the lenses in our glasses to the insulators on power poles. In simple terms, we categorize ceramics into two groups:
- Traditional Ceramics – These include bricks, glass, cement, porcelain, tile, and pottery. We build our houses with them, walk and drive on them, and create elegant works of art using ceramics.
- Advanced Ceramics – This category includes complex compounds carefully engineered for specific applications. For example, aluminum oxide serves as the primary ceramic compound for artificial hip joints. Gratefully, aluminum oxide extends the life of hip replacements because it is strong and scratch resistant.
The Versatility of Ceramics
Both traditional and advanced ceramics share several beneficial characteristics, including resistance to corrosion and heat tolerance. Manufacturers and artists also choose ceramics for their strength, hardness, scratch resistance, light weight, and malleability. Most ceramics also function as effective insulators.
For example, ceramics form numerous engine components in the aerospace and automotive industries. They tolerate high temperatures, and unlike many metals, ceramic components do not rust. Furthermore, because they operate at higher temperatures and weigh less than other materials, ceramics contribute to lower exhaust emissions and reduced fuel consumption.
In addition to aerospace and automotive applications, ceramics work well in construction and medical applications, semiconductor production, and the nuclear power industry. Plus, scientists continue to work hard to solve complex problems in challenging environments with ceramics.
Effective Techniques for Machining Ceramics
Ceramics provide valuable solutions to a wide range of problems in a variety of industries. Unfortunately, some of the properties that make them so useful also make them hard to machine. For example, the hardness of a ceramic component that has been fired to full density makes the part very difficult to machine with the usual techniques.
Notwithstanding their strength, ceramic parts can break or chip when dropped or exposed to sudden changes in temperature. You may have experienced this with a shock if you have quickly added ice water to a hot ceramic dish or mug.
To get around these difficulties, workers often machine ceramics before final firing while still in the green body stage. In addition, they sometimes use machinable ceramics such as Macor, or utilize more practical machining techniques such as abrasive blasting.
Process Fragile Ceramics with Abrasive Blasting
Micro-abrasive blasting provides an effective method for technicians and artists to process fragile ceramics without breaking them. Depending on the blast pressure and abrasive powder used, abrasive blasting performs several tasks, from surface preparation to selective cleaning, drilling, etching, and cutting.
Consider that after EDM processing, ceramic mechanical components may contain bubbles and cracks. Technicians then remove thermal damage with abrasive blasting to achieve a more uniform surface. Abrasive blasting also works well in the dental industry to clean crowns and prepare the surface of implants for increased bonding.
Ceramics Abrasive Blasting Experts
In working with ceramics or other materials, the experts at Airbrasive bring a long track record of creating solutions for artists as well as professionals in the electronics, medical, automotive and aerospace, and other industries. We help technicians realize the benefits of ceramics by developing machining solutions to meet unique challenges.